Greetings fellow Pagans!
I was recently invited to give a lecture on “ceremonial magick” to a local group of second degree Wiccans. After accepting the invitation, I took some time to consider what direction such a lecture should take. What about ceremonial magick would interest them, and how could I present it in a manner to which they could relate?
The answer came quickly enough: I would give them a condensed history lesson about the Western Mystery Tradition – covering the development of Hermeticism, the Hebrew and later Christian Qabalah, Rosicrucianism, Masonry, the Golden Dawn and Thelema. Finally, all of this would culminate in a discussion about the rise of Wicca and its interrelationship with all of the above.
In the lecture, I pointed out the influence of the Golden Dawn in Wicca’s magickal methods – such as circle castings, pentagrams, Watchtower guardians, the four Elements, etc. I discussed the impact of Regardie’s publication of ‘The Golden Dawn’ on mid-twentieth century occultism (Neo-paganism included). And I even discussed Gerald Gardner’s association with Thelema – drawing much from my old Thelemic Origins of Wicca essay.
Overall, I’d call the event a resounding success, and it looks like I’m going to have to come up with some ideas for a future lecture for the same group.
Meanwhile, in the days since the event I have discovered there is something in the air about this subject. I just received the latest edition of Hermetic Virtues Magazine, and wouldn’t you know it included a wonderful essay by Peregrin Wildoak entitled The Influence of the Golden Dawn in Wicca. I have been wanting to write that very essay for many years – but it looks like Peregrin beat me to it, and did it better than I would have done. I forwarded a copy to the Wiccan priestess who organized my lecture, so she could offer it as “further reading” to her students. (I also recommend you get a copy of the latest Hermetic Virtues to check it out!)
I sent a message to Peregrin, offering my kudos and asking if he had ever read my Thelemic Origins… essay. He said he had indeed read it, and even brought it up in a related lecture he had given: The Influence of Aleister Crowley on the Development of Wicca. Let me quote his reply here:
thanks for this
Yes, I read your very interesting article…and politely disagreed with its central thesis in another recent lecture Would love a counter argument if you wish
That certainly piqued my interest. I doubted he disagreed with my premise of a Thelemic influence upon the development of Wicca. So I read his essay to find his specific point of dissent. I discovered a quote from my essay in a section entitled Myth Number 3 – Wicca as an Outer Court to the OTO or a Thelemic Vehicle:
“I’ve come to understand that Gerald Gardner intended from the very beginning for Wicca to be a largely Thelemic system.”
Having read the entire article, I think I understand where Preegrin disagrees with my statement. The above quote could be taken in one of two ways: Either I understand Wicca was intended as an organizational Thelemeic (that is, OTO) vehicle, or that it was a philosophical Thelemic vehicle.
In fact, I meant the latter. I am not among those who have suspected Wicca was intended as an outer court to the OTO, or even an “OTO for the masses.” Instead, my view is that Wicca was (to an extent) built upon Thelemic philosophy.
Of course, Peregrin also disagrees with that premise – and to prove it he cites several departures from (or in some cases the absence of) Thelemic philosophy in the Wiccan religion. And he is correct – such departures and absences do exist, and he does a fine job of pointing them out.
However, to play devil’s advocate, I would also point out that Thelema was intended to be a highly individualized philosophy. Are not those who dissect the Book of the Law and nit-pick specific points of Thelemic philosophy supposed to be “centers of pestilence”? Is it not the one cardinal rule of Thelema that one should follow his own True Will no matter what? Given this nature of the system, I don’t find it so hard to believe that Gerald Gardner felt at liberty to take Wicca in directions that might conflict with any of Crowley’s writings.
Still, I will admit my statement that Wicca was intended as “a Thelemic system” might have been over-stating the case to some extent. (That essay was one of my earliest pieces, and not an example of my best writing.) I certainly don’t view Wicca as just Thelema with Neo-pagan overlay.
However, the influence of Thelema and its philosophies upon Gardner cannot be denied. (Nor, to be fair, does Peregrin attempt to deny them in his essay.) I see more of Thelema in Wicca than the mere “fleshing out of sparse material” that Gardner claimed it to be. I believe Gardner’s occultism was heavily Crowley-influenced – first through Crowley’s published writings, then during Gardner’s time with the OTO – and that this formed the foundation upon which Wicca was ultimately constructed. (Much in the manner that Thelema is founded upon Golden Dawn principles, while it is not “Golden Dawn” in and of itself.)
Though, it is true that Gardner was taking Wicca in directions that often left the greater Thelemic system behind, and that Doreen Valiente took it even further afield. I suspect the apparent disagreement between me and Peregrim Wildoak on this issue is largely one of semantics.
Greetings to my students!
After I gave my Ceremonial Magick classes in North Carolina (six classes of material packed into two sessions!), one of my students asked me to take her to the store’s bookshelves and show her my best recommendations for further reading. Now, back home in Florida, we are reaching the last few classes of the course – where we finally begin to take all the basic rituals, correspondences and theory and put them together in rituals of practical magick. Once we are done, I suspct my current students are also going to want resources for further reading and study.
Even outside of my classes, I know many of you reading this blog are solitary practitioners. And I’m sure you would also like to know which books I recommend to futher your understanding of the Western Mystery Tradition and the practice of Hermetic Ceremonial Magick.
So, I’ve made this blog entry for both groups of students and practitioners. Much like the post I made concerning books about Babylonian and Semitic myth and magick, I will here gather the titles that I have found most useful in my own Ceremonial Magick studies – both when I was a solitary seeker and even still today.
We are very fortunate today, in that we have dozens of great resources that seekers in previous generations have had to do without. I hope you will find this list useful in your studies.
The Essential Golden Dawn : An Introduction to High Magic - Chic and Tabatha Cicero
A great general introduction to the Western Mystery Tradition as a whole. It traces the historical development of the WMT and introduces the student to many of the basic theories and philosophies behind our magick. Some of the basic rituals are also included.
Modern Magick: Twelve Lessons in the High Magickal Arts – Donald Michael Kraig
This is where it all started for me! When I was handed my first copy of this book, I was already practicing my own intuitive forms of magick (much akin to Hoodoo, really). But after just one look inside this book, I knew I had found something vastly important and powerful. I made up my mind then and there to put myself through the (at the time) Eleven Lessons – and the rest is history. This is not specifically a “Golden Dawn” text, but it does focus on Golden Dawn rituals and techniques, and I highly recommend it as an introduction to the practical side of the Hermetic Arts.
Self-Initiation Into the Golden Dawn Tradition: A Complete Curriculum of Study for Both the Solitary Magician and the Working Magical Group – Chic and Tabatha Cicero
The Ciceros created this resource with the solitary practitioner in mind. They gathered a very large amount of the Grade curriculum of the Outer Order of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, then expanded it with extra-curricular study material. Then they created a ritual process of Self Initiation by which the solitary seeker can progress through the Grade material. The Self Initiation rituals will certainly not make you a member of an Order, but they will introduce you to the forces invoked in each Grade of the Outer Order. There are even quizzes at the end of each Grade, so you’ll know when you’ve incorperated enough knowledge to move on to the lessons of the next Grade. This textbook is so useful, it is even used as a study guide by students of the H.O.G.D. itself.
Secrets of a Golden Dawn Temple – Chic and Tabatha Cicero
There have been several different editions of this text under different names. You can also find the material split between Creating Magical Tools and Ritual Use of Magical Tools. The above-linked version is the one I found and used many many years ago – in fact I think it was the first Cicero book I ever owned. It outlines in exhaustive detail how to build all the tools, furniture, robes, talismans and other ritual paraphernalia associated with Golden Dawn magick. Though you certainly won’t have to build everything you find in this book to practice at home, it contains enough to set up a fully functioning Traditional G.D. Temple. Plus, it gives you the magickal theory behind each tool along with the rituals to conscrate and use them.
The Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot – Tabatha Cicero and Chic Cicero
This is a Tarot Deck, but it does come with a book. If you’re going to get into Golden Dawn magick, you’re going to be using the Tarot. And this deck is specially made for use in Golden Dawn ceremonies. (I still prefer the Smith-Waite deck for divinations, but this deck can’t be beat for G.D. work!)
The Golden Dawn: The Original Account of the Teachings, Rites & Ceremonies of the Hermetic Order – edited by Israel Regardie
This is where it all started – at least for those of us practicing the Golden Dawn today. After 1900, the original Order of the Golden Dawn split into several different groups. One of them became the Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, which still exists today. Another became the Alpha et Omega, which closed its doors sometime in the 1940s. And another became the Stella Matutina – which was the branch joined by Israel Regardie. The Stella Matutina closed most of its doors in the middle of the 2oth century. (Only one Temple remained, but it had changed its name to the Order of Smaragdum Thallasses – better known as the Whare Ra Temple – and operated secretly in New Zealand until 1978.) Before the bulk of the Stella Matutina Temples died away, Israel Regardie decided to save the Tradition by publishing the Order’s papers. This decision was controversial, but most today agree that it saved the Golden Dawn. This book is that publication – so you can see for yourself where it all began. This was the book used by Chic Cicero to found his own Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn – which is by far the world’s largest and most successful Golden Dawn Order today. This book also serves as the “advanced manual” that takes you to the next step beyond the Ciceros’ Self Initiation… book.
The Complete Golden Dawn System of Magic – edited by Israel Regardie
A good companion volume to The Golden Dawn above. This book contains a lot of early Golden Dawn material that didn’t make it into the first book.
A Garden of Pomegranates: Skrying on the Tree of Life – Israel Regardie, Chic and Tabatha Cicero
This is one of the books by Israel Regardie that the Ciceros greatly expanded and then republished for the modern student. It is an excellent exploration of the Tree of Life and the magickal and Hermetic concepts that it embodies. In my intro classes, I give you the basics of the Tree of Life – but this text will take you to the next level and beyond. It includes guided meditations to introduce you to the energies, correspondences, angels and other magickal beings associated with every Sephirah and Path of the Tree.
The Middle Pillar: The Balance Between Mind and Magic – Israel Regardie, Chic and Tabatha Cicero
The is another Israel Regardie original, expanded and republished by the Ciceros. Without a doubt, this is one of my favorites. It outlines the psychological aspects of Qabalistic and Hermetic practice – that is how the material interfaces with and changes your psyche. While I am no fan of the “psychological theory of magick” that does not mean there is no psychology at all involved in its theory and practice. I describe it this way: Magick is not “a form of psychology” any more than an engine is “a car.” Yet, without an engine a car is just a dead thing and doesn’t get you anywhere. How magick affects your mind, and how your mind affects your magick, it extremely important to understand.
Godwin’s Cabalistic Encyclopedia – David Godwin
This is a wonderfully useful resource for anyone studying the Western Hermetic Qabalah. Godwin has gathered every Hebrew name and term he could find, given them in English and Hebrew characters, their Gematira values and explained what they mean. As an appendix, he has also included a copy of “Sepher Sephiroth” – which gathers even more Hebrew words and phrases according to their Gematria values. (Kind of a 777 for the Golden Dawn crowd.)
Prometheus Rising – Robert Anton Wilson, Introduced by Israel Regardie.
And speaking of understanding psychology, this book is an absolute must-read. It is an easy-to-understand operator’s manual for your brain – complete with exercises. And the concepts it teaches are, as I said above, extremely important to your own spirutal development and your successful use of that thing called Magick. ( I drew upon the material in this book in my own Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires.)
Ishtar Rising: Or, Why the Goddess Went to Hell and What to Expect Now That She’s Returning – Robert Anton Wilson
See above. I consider this to be the second half of Prometheus Rising. And, as the title suggests, this book focuses upon the sacred feminine within all of us – and even explains why magick and witchcraft have returned to our culture in a big way. Highly recommended!
(NOTE: I will soon be adding a list of traditional Qabalistic texts to this list, such as the Zohar and Sepher Yetzirah. Stay tuned.)
The following books were not part of my own early studies into Ceremonial magick, but I believe they are potentially useful to today’s students:
Experiencing the Kabbalah: A Simple Guide to Spiritual Wholeness – Chic and Tabatha Cicero
“Kabbalah, a spiritual system grounded in symmetry and logic, is rarely addressed in a format that is suitable for beginners. Experiencing the Kabbalah goes against the trend, however, by presenting both historical and practical information on the Kabbalah that focuses on experiencing this ancient spiritual system rather than just reading about it. Chic and Sandra Tabatha Cicero accomplish this through a sort of ritual drama that they call “Walking the Tree of Life.” It characterizes each Sephiroth (different aspects of the divine) of the Kabbalah as a person, from the stable Malkuth to the enigmatic Kether, granting readers a fuller understanding of the Sephiroth and the paths between them. Experiencing the Kabbalah is an innovative guide for beginners as well as informative reading for adept practitioners.”
Making Talismans: Living Entities of Power – Nick Farrell
“Discover the secret keys and practical techniques to turn mundane objects into “living entities of power,” bringing real change in your life. By pooling magical practices from shamanism, paganism, the Esoteric Order of the Golden Dawn, and Dion Fortune, Making Talismans offers training and techniques for performing advanced magical talismanic operations.”
King Over the Water: Samuel Mathers and the Golden Dawn - Nick Farrell
If you are interested in the history of the Golden Dawn, this is a great place to start. This book explores the life and times one of the founders of the G.D. without the usual lens of myth and legend surrounding him. Spoiler alert! Mathers was a fallible human being like the rest of us.
Mathers’ Last Secret REVISED – The Rituals and Teachings of the Alpha et Omega – Nick Farrell
The Alpha et Omega is the branch of the Order founded by Mathers after the original group split apart. This book is a good companion to King Over the Water, as well as Regardie’s The Golden Dawn. It contains the rituals used by Mathers’ A.O. before it closed its doors in the 1940s. Here, you can see how things were done in the A.O. as opposed to what the Stella Matutina was up to on their side of the fence.
By Names and Images: Bringing the Golden Dawn to Life – Peregrin Wildoak
“The Golden Dawn (GD) system of magic is the main source of the esoteric and magical wisdom and techniques practiced in the West today. While the rituals and bare teachings of the tradition have been published for sixty years, the inner workings and esoteric keys that empower those rituals have largely remained unpublished or unexplored in contemporary works. By Names and Images remedies this lack by providing detailed and clear instructions for the visualisations, spiritual connections and energetic practices required for every major GD practice and ritual, as well as several unpublished techniques. Focusing on the meanings and use of sacred names and practical techniques of visualisation, the book thoroughly explores meditation and divination, purification ritual, invocation and evocation, grades of initiation, and direct experience of the inner realms. Also covered is an explanation of the Qabalah and its use as a magical framework. While the book is sufficiently practical and clearly explained to be of huge benefit to a newcomer to magic, its primary aim is to allow people already practicing the Golden Dawn system to do so more effectively, and to be touched by the amazing spiritual blessings the rituals offer.”
This list is certainly not exhaustive – I could have included many further books by authors like Pat Zalewski, John Michael Greer and others. And I could have included even more by authors like the Ciceros and Donald Michael Kraig. However, I think this list is certainly more than enough to give you a sound start and a well-rounded understanding of the Golden Dawn and its magickal tradition. It will also help you to avoid wasting your time and money on books that are of lesser quality, or just re-hashes of what has already been written by the fine authors listed above.
There is also a lot of good material still in the works, too – so I’ll likely be expanding this list in the future. Meanwhile, if this list isn’t enough to keep you occupied, check out this post listing the best Golden Dawn, Hermetic and Rosicrucian blogs out there – so you can keep your eyes on the ever-developing Western Mystery Tradition.
Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn
As many of you know, I recently published an essay entitled The Return of Psalm Magick and the Mixed Qabalah. (Find it in both Hoodoo and Conjure Quarterly and Diamond Fire Magazine.) In that essay, I reviewed two books released by Avalonia Publishing, one of which was A Collection of Magical Secrets & a Treatise of Mixed Cabalah by Skinner and Rankine. This is two different pamphlets published together, and I found myself utterly captivated by A Treatise of Mixed Cabalah.
The Mixed Qabalah of Abramelin
Anyone who has read the Book of Abramelin (French or German) understands why that title would peak my interest. Within his autobiographical material, Abraham the Jew explains that there are only three types of true magick: The Qabalah, the True and Sacred Magick (i.e., of Abramelin) and the “Mixed Qabalah.” He goes on to elaborate the Mixed Qabalah by listing its different categories and types – but he really only succeeds in making the entire subject obscure. We are only left with the impression that the Mixed Qabalah is some kind of blending of Qabalistic wisdom and classical magickal arts such as alchemy, astrology, herbology and divination by visions.
Those who have only read the French (aka “Mathers”) version of Abramelin have missed an important part of the puzzle. Mathers decided to remove one of the Books of Abramelin from his publication of the grimoire – and that happened to be Book II, containing several chapters of folk magick-style spells. Not realizing that this book represented the Mixed Qabalah that Abraham described in the first book, Mathers assumed it was just a collection of low-magickal formulas that had been added to the text at a later date. He was obviously incorrect – and his deletion of that material made Abraham’s ramblings about Mixed Qabalah even harder to understand.
What we find in the restored Book II (see Georg Dehn’s Book of Abramelin) is fairly standard scriptural magick – like we would find in Use of the Psalms or Avalonia’s recent publication of The Book of Gold. The main difference is that those examples focus entirely on the Psalms, while Abramelin’s Book II makes use of scripture from various books of the Bible. Each chapter focuses upon a specific goal, most of which are fairly typical of grimoiric literature: healing, love, protection, warfare, birth, addressing nobility, etc, etc. In each case a prayer or scripture is given along with basic instructions on how to apply it. Here is a good example:
Chapter 5, Spell 1: Against Tempests, Ghosts and Visions Prepared by Evil People
Take flowing water, throw in some grains of salt. Then, with the blood of a wether or steer – into which has been mixed sulfur and gall – write the words below. Wash this off with the salt water. Sprinkle this water at the tempest or against the vision.
Adonai Zebaoth, threaten them, so that they will fly away. Haunt them like the wind puts dust upon the hills, and like the tempest comes before the whirlwind. [-adapted from Isaiah 17:13]
I would assume the prayer is written upon parchment. A dip-pen would be used to write the words, and then the salted water used to wash off the still-wet ink. (The parchment, pen, water and even the ink can all be consecrated beforehand.) The water/ink mixture is caught in a bowl, and it can then be used for the given purpose of the spell.
This is just the kind of magick I’m into, and as a devotee of the Abramelin system I was eager to try one of the formulas. I found a good reason when we moved into a new home just over a year ago. I wanted to use the following spell from chapter five to protect the property:
Chapter Five, Spell 3: That Evil People and Magic Cannot Damage Your House
Write on seven tablets of pure beeswax. Bury them in seven locations around your boundaries, or place them under the edges of the roof of your house. The house will be secure, evil will not be able to approach. The words:
The godless have pleasure from doing harm, but the seed of the righteous will bear fruit. [- adapted from Proverbs 11:21]
It seemed straightforward enough, with a kind of Hoodoo simplicity about it. No elaborate instructions, just inscribe the words on the proper material and bury them around the property. So we did just that. We cast seven beeswax disks, inscribed the words and buried them at seven points around the property (in the form of a giant heptagram). We even did the burial at midnight.
Our first try was not without its issues. First, the seventh wax disk had come out of its mold slightly deformed. I didn’t like it, but the text didn’t mention what shape the wax had to be, so I felt there was no harm in using it as-is. However, over several weeks after I buried that talisman, I noticed that grass was refusing to re-grow over the spot.
Another issue that nagged at me was the utter lack of any ritual in the preparation or burying of these talismans. Others in the house mentioned this same thing – but since I always support following a text’s instructions without addition or subtraction the first time out, I decided against adding consecrations or invocations of my own design. (We did add the burial of the talismans at midnight.) Still, even I felt like something was missing.
At first, the talismans seemed to work. Some neighborhood kids, more mischievous than anything, had stolen several items from our front porch. They were caught in the act, and between my wife and their parents we had every single item returned within minutes. So I decided not to worry about the deformed talisman, the barren spot over it or the fact that we had created and buried all seven of them without consecration or ritual.
And then some idiot decided to chuck a rock through the back windshield of our car. We were only away from the car for about an hour, and in that time one of the local kids who sometimes use our street as a shortcut must have vandalized our property to impress his friends. I was steaming mad (still am!), but I wasn’t shocked. You see, the car had been parked right next to that deformed talisman where the grass refused to grow. I could no longer fool myself into believing the talismans were “just fine” – they were in fact an utter failure. I made plans to remake the talismans, this time fully consecrating them before burying them – and put the project on my “important magickal projects to-do ASAP” list.
A Treatise of Mixed Cabalah
Skip forward a few weeks, and Avalonia sent me a copy of A Treatise of Mixed Cabalah: Which Comprises the Angelic Art taken from Hebrew Sages. This was the first indication I had ever seen that the “Mixed Qabalah” was anything more than an invention of Abraham the Jew. Here was a book, completely unrelated to Abramelin, written maybe as recently as the late eighteenth century. Its existence implies that the Mixed Qabalah was in fact an established tradition – very nearly lost to the history of Western occultism.
The pamphlet is divided into two parts. The first is a lengthy angelic invocation based upon older Jewish customs of invoking angels (often Metatron) to teach the mysteries of Torah. In A Treatise… the focus is upon the seven planetary archangels and having them teach one the mysteries of Qabalah. Quite fascinating (and something I must undertake someday!) – but it didn’t grab my attention quite as much as the second part. This was an eight-day ritual for the consecration and fashioning of talismans.
In just one simple (yet extended) ritual, this short text provided a nearly complete magickal art. It calls upon the same seven archangels as the previous part (Cassiel, Sachiel, Samael, Michael, Anael, Raphael and Gabriel) and the ritual comprises both the consecration of the talismata material (wax or metal) and the enlivening of the completed talisman at the same time. Right away, I knew this could be used to create insanely powerful talismans for any imaginable purpose. Not only that, but it solved the problem of what was “missing” from my first attempt to use the house-protection formula from Abramelin.
I gave an outline of the consecration ritual in my The Return of Psalm Magick and the Mixed Qabalah essay, so I won’t duplicate all of that here. I am going to outline the entire process I followed below, so you’ll get the same information. Plus I’m going to elaborate quite a bit, and give English translations for the Latin invocations given in the text. (Thanks to Carrie Mikell for her translation work.)
Enlivening the Wax Talismans of Abramelin
First, I want to state right away that I was unable to follow good magickal timing for this project. The given ritual does not mention timing – however the first half of the pamphlet insists upon a waxing moon, and I can only assume the same applies to the second half. Personally, I also try to generate astrological charts to find the best days to do the work. In this case, we were under pressure to get this work done as quickly as possible, so we can continue forward with bigger projects – some of which demand specific timing. Thus, I went forward without consideration of timing – though it’s not something I recommend in general (especially for beginners).
There was also one point in which I deviated from the Treatise…. The text states that you must live “without sin” for seven months before attempting the ritual. This raises all sorts of questions regarding what the author meant by “sin.” Likely sex outside of marriage should be prohibited, along with gambling, getting drunk, etc. And certainly one must keep the 10 commandments. If we look at the subject outside a purely Judeo-Christian context, we find that “sin” means any action taken or taboo broken that offends your Patron God. On most of these points I’m pretty cool, and if I really do something to piss off my God, my Guardian Angel lets me know. I certainly didn’t think I’d been living a life of ‘sin” by my understanding of the term.
Of course, as a Solomonic mage, I want to interpret “live free of sin for seven months” as an instruction to perform ritual purifications for seven months – similar to Abramelin. And this is where I feel I deviated from the text. Rather than spend seven months in preparation for the magick, I decided to substitute a seven-day Solomonic preparation. While I don’t feel this harmed the outcome of the magick at all, I will certainly admit that a seven-month purification would have been even more powerful. I could see doing this for operations of truly life-altering importance.
Meanwhile, here is how I prepared for the rite: It really began on the Wednesday before I started the purifications. Just before an hour of Mercury, I performed a full Solomonic Bath followed by the consecration of holy water. (The ritual in A Treatise… calls for holy water on the seventh day. In one place it refers to it as “rose water”, so I also added some dried rose petals to the water and let them soak for a couple of days.)
After I had made the holy water (before I threw in the rose petals, in fact), I got the sudden urge to use it to (re-)consecrate my temple-space. I just recently had a Bible returned to my possession that I had thought long-lost. It was a very important talisman to me, and I was ecstatic to have it to work with again. So I took up that Bible and read Solomon’s Dedication of the Temple (2 Chronicles 6:13-42) while I circumambulated the temple again and again, sprinkling everything in sight with the water and aspergillum.
The following Tuesday, I began the week of purification. Because the consecration ritual is itself a week of purification, I kept this preliminary week simple. I made sure I had no social engagements scheduled, cut back on sexual stimulation and began a vegetarian diet. Also, I would recite a pair of invocations from the Key of Solomon once in the morning and twice in the evening. (You can find them on p. 215-216 of Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires, or in the Key of Solomon, Book Two, Chapter 4).
On the following Tuesday, I began the ritual as outlined in A Treatise of Mixed Cabalah. The pamphlet instructs one to begin the work on the day of the angel you wish to invoke. In my case, I wished to invoke Samael (Mars) to create guardian talismans for the protection of my home. At dawn, I washed and entered the temple. According to my own habit, I put on the white robe and opened the blinds to let in the dawn light upon the altar. I lit a white candle in my Solomnic lantern, and kindled coals for my censor. A Treatise… says to use pleasant odors for good things and evil odors for bad things. I chose to use a Martian incense:
Pipe Tobacco, 1 pt
Cinnamon, 1/2 pt
Crushed Red Pepper, 1/8th pt
WARNING!: Martian incense is one of the most dangerous substances I’ve worked with! It is, quite simply, tear gas. If you make this, do not add too much red pepper. And when you burn it, do it in small quantities. Never, for any reason, lean over the censor and inhale or draw in breath! Too much pepper or direct inhalation can burn your throat and lungs.
I know it sounds horrible, and I did cough a bit the first couple of days I used it. But once you get used to it, it has a rather pleasant smell. (That is, beneath a powerful burning smell.)
I had the wax I was going to consecrate on the altar in a steel bowl. Facing East, I held my hand over the bowl and recited the following three invocations seven times:
Blessing Prayers (see A Treatise… p 103-104 for the Latin)
Why, O Lord, are they multiplied that afflict me? Many are they that rise up against me. Many say to my soul: there is no salvation for him in his God. But thou, O Lord, art my protector, my glory and the lifter up of my head. I have cried to the Lord with my voice: and He hath heard me from his holy hill. I have slept and taken my rest: and I have risen up because the Lord hath protected me. I will not fear thousands of the people surrounding me: Arise, O Lord, save me, O my God! For thou hast struck them all who are my adversaries without cause: thou hast broken the teeth of sinners. Salvation is of the Lord: and thy blessing is upon this creature of [wax].
From Psalm 133:
Behold, now bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord who stand in the House of the Lord. In the nights lift up your hands to the holy places, and bless ye the Lord. May the Lord out of Zion bless thee, thou creature of [wax]. he that made heaven and earth.
O Lord God, distribute the whole of thy knowledge and your every perfected virtue and kindness upon this creature of [wax]. Bless it, O Lord, and sanctify it so that you would drive away all our enemies who attack us within your sight, and stand victorious. Through thy holy Name which is exalted unto the ages. Amen.
It’s amazing how perfect these invocations were for my goal of protecting the house. (I’ll have further thoughts on this later.) After completing the invocations seven times, I took the wax, the book and the censor – leaving the candle burning in the lantern on the altar – and went out to the kitchen.
There, on the stove, I had a pot of water on to boil. (I turned it on before entering the temple, so it was just boiling when I came out.) I set the steel bowl full of wax onto the pot of water like a lid – thereby creating a double-boiler to safely melt the wax. As the wax melted, I put fresh incense on the censor and passed it around and around the steel bowl as I recited seven times the passage that would eventually be inscribed in the finished wax: “The godless have pleasure from doing harm, but the seed of the righteous shall bear fruit.” Then I recited the two following invocations:
Primary Invocations. (See A Treatise…, p 100 for the Latin)
Almighty and Everlasting God, who formed all of creation in thy praise and thy honour, and also in the service of Man. I pray unto thee to send forth and cause to appear before me the worthy spirit [ANGEL] to instruct me in the ways of equity and worth. Let me volunteer no truth, but through thy Holy Name. Thou art exalted through the ages.
Prayer to the Angel
I entreat you, o good angel [ANGEL], who is set in the day of [DAY], that the Lord, thy God and mine, who placed in thee power and strength above every intelligence and force, I beseech thee, that thou permit me to receive [_______] and that which will assist me and support me, and that you take this, my name [______] and make it strong beside you. And through this operation, I will be given light and instruction in this science. Amen Amen Amen. Fiat Fiat Fiat.
The Angel in question was, of course, Samael – the angel of Mars and Tuesday. (Some traditions call him Khamael – the result of mistaking a Hebrew Samekh for a Khaph.)
After making the invocations, I just had to wait for the wax to completely melt. A Treatise… is giving instructions for making one talisman at a time, but I was working with enough wax for seven! If I had been melting less wax, I’m sure it would have completely melted by the time I finished the invocations.
Finally, the melted wax had to be quenched in white wine purchased specifically for this purpose. (If I were making a metal talisman, I would have heated it until it was red and then quenched it.) Because I had never cast molten wax into cool liquid, I feared it might result in an explosion – akin to tossing water into hot grease. So, for the quenching I stepped out onto my back patio, with my wife attending to see the fireworks. I had to recite the scriptural phrase (“The godless have pleasure from doing harm…”) once again as I poured the wax into the pot of wine, and to our amazement no explosion resulted!
Interesting side note: as my wife and I peered into the rapidly cooling pot of wax and wine, we became aware of a rather large bumble bee buzzing around the pot. It paid no attention to us whatsoever, but was doubtlessly inspecting the familiar odors coming from the warm pot. I remembered in that instant that the bee is a classic symbol of the Goddess, and I took this as a very good omen for the work we were undertaking.
There was nothing left but to let the wax cool. I went back to the temple, burned some incense on the dying coal, said prayers of thanks to God and Samael and put out the candle. After the wax had plenty of time to cool, I removed it from the pot and returned it to the steel bowl. (While some liquid remained trapped in pockets in the wax, most of it had gathered beneath the cooled wax in the pot.)
The next six days were the same. I also continued my vegetarian diet, cut off all sexual stimulation and engaged in no social activities. Also, I did not call upon Samael on all seven days. While I did make use of the same Martian incense throughout the process, I actually called upon the angel who ruled the day in question. So Samael was followed by Raphael, then Sachiel, Anael, Cassiel, Michael and finally Gabriel. This way, the martial aspects of each of the seven archangels were invoked to add their blesing and power to the wax.
The only other thing to change during these seven days, was the use of holy rose-water instead of white wine to quench the melted wax on the seventh day. Of course, once I learned that quenching the wax would not result in an explosion, I performed the quenching in the kitchen from the second day forward.
During these seven days, my wife was performing her own ritual purifications. She started a vegetarian diet and cut off all sexual stimulation. She also prepared the mould we would use to cast the seven wax talismans:
A Treatise… gives the design for the talisman – a heptagram with a heptagon nested within it (likely inspired by the Sigillum Aemeth made famous by Dr. John Dee). In each angle of the heptagram is written a specific Hebrew Name of God, and in each corresponding side of the heptagon is the name of one of the seven archangels. The center is left blank for the inscription of a verse. (A Treatise… includes Psalm verses for many different uses, though I was of course using the verse taken from the Book of Abramelin.) You indicate which archangel you are invoking simply by orienting that name at the top of the talisman before you inscribe the verse in the center.
Since we had seven talismans to create, we decided to make a mould of the Treatise‘s heptacle – leaving the center blank so we could also use the mould for future purposes. This way, my wife only had to carve the heptacle design once, and then inscribe the verse upon each cast talisman.
Something else interesting happened during this week. I was sitting in the temple one evening, looking over the work my wife was doing on the mould. (At that time it was still a design on paper.) I wanted a better look at it, and reached up to turn on the lamp she keeps on a shelf just above her art table. I looked back down to get that closer look at the design – and the lamp came crashing down onto the desk! Objects went flying all over the place, including a glass vessel – after which I heard an incredible shattering sound on the floor beneath the table, right around my bare feet. A burst of anger flashed through me at the thought of the mess, and the small bits of glass we were sure to find with our naked feet for weeks. I looked down to see the extent of the damage – and found the vessel had not shattered at all. A small piece of it had broken off, but it was basically ok. The shattering sound had, in fact, been a container of nails that had been knocked down by the falling lamp, sending the nails scattering across the tile floor.
As the flash of anger subsided and I stooped down to gather up the nails, I considered why such a thing would have happened inside the temple. It hit me as I reached to scoop up yet another handful of nails… which are traditional symbols of martian magick. The sudden calamity, the scattered nails, the intense flash of anger – it was obvious I was getting Samael’s attention.
Finally, the seven days were over. The wax had been blessed, melted and quenched seven times, each time having the verse that would later be inscribed into it recited over it seven-plus-one times. On the eighth day, well before dawn, my wife took a full Solomonic Bath. I followed her with a very simple bath of my own – using just one set of Barbarous Names and a prayer or two from the Key. By the time I was done she was in her white robe and waiting in the kitchen.
I came in with the wax in the steel pot, the book, the Solomonic lantern and censor (both already lit). I turned on the stove to boil the water, and as it heated up, I recited the following consecration over the burner:
Blessing of the Fire (See A Treatise…, p 105 for the Latin)
Bless, O God, this creature of fire, so that it is strong and effective in my petition to your kindness and your almighty power. Through thy most holy name which is exalted through the ages. Amen.
I then repeated the same process as on the previous days: I melted the wax on the stove while I perfumed it and recited the verse (“The godless have pleasure from doing harm…”) seven times. Then I recited the prayer and invocation for the angel of the day once again, calling upon Samael with extra emphasis.
Once the wax had melted for the final time, we used Pam to lightly coat the mould and then poured in some of the wax. We placed it gently into the freezer to set for a few minutes, then gently removed it from the mould. My wife set about repairing any imperfections left by the mould and inscribing the verse (making sure Samael was at the top), while I re-coated the mould with Pam, poured in more wax and returned it to the freezer. I also made sure the candle stayed lit in the lantern (had to replace it once) and that perfumes were put on the censor every now and again.
Now this is interesting. This process worked as smooth as silk for the first five talismans. And that’s when Samael, the haSathan himself, began to make his presence known. Talismans six and seven began to fight our attempts to cast them. Number six was recast once or twice, but number seven took at least five (there’s that number again) attempts before it began to cooperate. There would either be bubbles in the final result, or impurities from the censor, or I would drop it trying to remove it from the mold, etc, etc. Just as I had experienced in the temple with the nails, I found myself getting angry – and more-so each time I had to re-cast. By the time it was over, I was absolutely livid – not ranting and raving like a madman, but certainly boiling like a pressure cooker inside. The lamp and censor had long since burned out.
My part mostly done, I went into the living room and sat to calm down for a bit. My wife inscribed the final disk, at last, and recited the following prayer over the seven completed talismans:
Prayer after inscribing the Heptacle (See A Treatise…, p 106 for the Latin)
I come to you, all-powerful and eternal God, and to all the Angels of God, be thou propitious unto me, [______], whose names are written by my hand in this [waxen] symbol. And be mine help in obtaining [_______], by thy most holy names, and by all the virtues of the Creator, the Lord our God, who is exalted through the Ages.
After this, I returned to the temple to recite prayers of thanks to the Highest and to Samael and close things down. Afterward, I was still irritable – so we went to lunch (where I had meat for the first time in two weeks!) and then I went to bed.
Later that night (still Tuesday), we buried the talismans. We decided to stick with midnight, just to add a Hoodoo flare to the burial, though we might have chosen an hour of Mars just as well. Starting in the East, we buried the talismans as we had before – in seven locations around the property, marking out a giant heptagon- walking clockwise the entire way. At each burial, I would recite the verse inscribed upon the talisman once again, then bless the ground with the recitation of the Qabalistic Cross. Once we returned to the Eastern point, I raised my hands and said a prayer of thanks to the Highest and Samael – invoking Samael to send his servient angels to patrol the borders of our land and protect our home from all harm and evil magick.
Results of the Operation
The next day, me and my wife (who also happens to be my skryer/medium) discussed the immediate results of the magick. I had received a strong impression that Samael wanted us to place an offering over the talisman we buried in the East. I was thinking about hot peppers, rum, cigars and I had a strong feeling about adding some of the nails from the earlier incident in the temple. My wife said she had received a similar message about leaving offerings – including nails as well as a gun and a machete(!).
I fully understand why the spirits involved would want those weapons. However, in order to do that we would have to bury them quite deep (and make sure the gun can’t be used if it were ever found). However, I dislike the idea of burying offerings intended for celestial entities. When we return next Tuesday to make the offerings, we will likely use a pendulum or another method to divine exactly how to properly and safely offer them the weapons.
The night we buried the talismans, my wife also had a dream/vision in which she saw the angels placed by Samael over the talismans. She described them as a very dark rust color, with large dark wings and faces that would otherwise seem demonic. They were, of course, carrying very large swords. Each one patrolled an area around his talisman, and all seven of them chattered back and forth in a language she could not understand. (It was likely Angelical, but not the dialect we know from the 48 Calls.) She was, however, told that each of these angels would like us to know its name – and if we wanted to work with them directly, they would like us to set up seven “Solomnic prendas” for them near our front door on the porch. We may just look into doing that.
Some Thoughts on Changes…
Now that I’ve been through this operation and have a good idea how it works, I have some ideas on changes I’ll make next time around. First, I noticed that the first Psalm used for the Blessing Prayers in A Treatise… (Psalm 3) was absolutely perfect for my intended goal – the protection of my home from any potential enemies or criminals. However, I have to question how appropriate that same Psalm would be for- say- a Talismans for prosperity, or for love, or for the success of a business enterprise, etc, etc. I believe that Psalm could be changed depending on your magickal goal, and I will likely do this in the future.
Secondly, the invocations given A Treatise… for God and the Angel of the day are actually taken from the operation in the first part of the pamphlet. The second part simply refers you to those prayers and says to use them. However, as you can see above, those two prayers are specifically geared toward having the Angel appear before you and teach you things. This is not the goal of the second part of the book. Therefore, I suggest these two prayers should be used as examples, but need to be slightly re-worded for use with the consecration rite. When I use this process in the future, I will make that small change.
And that concludes the write-up of my first experiment with A Treatise of Mixed Cabalah. We will be making the offerings next Tuesday at dawn, but I will not likely share the information we learn from that point. This has been an exhausting yet rewarding experience.
Update (4-10-11): The Offerings
The Tuesday following the above work, we did indeed return to make an offering to Samael and his Angels.
It partly consisted of the wax left over from making the seven talismans (which was well consecrated to Mars and Samael) with seven of the previously-mentioned nails thrust into it. (I chose seven so there would be one for each buried talisman.) It also included five pieces of bread covered with milk and honey, five hot peppers, five cigars and red wine. This was all arranged (or poured out) at the Eastern boundary of our property, over the spot where we had buried the first talisman. I repeated the two invocations (one to God, one to Samael) I had used throughout the consecration ritual, then stated that I had brought the offerings in thanksgiving, lit one of the cigars and blew five puffs of the smoke onto the offerings.
We attempted to perform divinations to ask about the gun and blade, and how we should offer them. However, we got little result – and my wife reported that Samael was claiming to be “busy with something elsewhere” and could not attend to our questions. We will probably re-visit this issue at a later date, but for now we’ve put it aside.
October 23, 2010:
I imagine that most of you likely think of me as a Solomonic or Enochian magician. A good number of you also seem to remember that I began my path among the ranks of the Neopagans (specifically you Pagans, Witches and Rennies out there in Denver, Colorado).
However, depending on which occult sub-culture you come from, you may be less likely to know that I am also a student of Hermeticism, the WH Qabalah, Rosicrucianism and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. (Yes, Virginia, there are Golden Dawners who do not try to cram everything in existence onto the Tree of Life, nor interpret all magick everywhere strictly through a Golden Dawn filter.)
My Hermetic path began in the same time and place as my Neopagan adventures – when a close friend handed me a copy of Donald Michael Kraig’s Modern Magick: Eleven Lessons in the High Magickal Arts. I was dumbfounded by the magickal techniques outlined in the book (and who was this “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” anyway?), and immediately began to put myself slowly and whole-heartedly through the lessons. That was the very book that launched me upon the path that led me here.
And now it is gone. That’s right, the second edition of Modern Magick has completely sold out, and will not be re-printed! In its place, Llewellyn is offering this:
Yep, as if you hadn’t already heard, Don has released an expanded third edition of Modern Magick – now containing twelve lessons in the high magickal arts. There is 40% more material in this edition than in the previous two, and even what was already there has been revised, updated and clarified. (Hence the title of this blog- Moderner Magick- in case you thought that was a typo!)
Not only did the book get longer, it got bigger too. At 8 1/2 x 11 inches, Modern Magick can now be found in any bookstore on the highest or lowest shelf (ugh!), right next to Secrets of the Magickal Grimoires! :) I haven’t checked, but Modern Magick and Secrets… are the only two Llewellyn books I know of with these dimensions. Thus, Don and I are now stuck with each other on the store bookshelf! LOL
(That’s actually a good thing for students. Now when you get to Don’s lesson on grimoiric magick, you can reach right over and grab Secrets… to explore the subject in greater depth.)
Talk about coming full circle for me. Well, that and the fact that we recently attended each others workshops at the Greensong Grove Samhain Festival – the first time either of us has had the opportunity to do that. And though this isn’t the first time I’ve met Don, it is the first time (after the workshops) that he and I got to spend any real time shooting the breeze about magick and friends and old stories about him I probably shouldn’t know.
Don wrote a blog about his Greensong Grove experience – and even gives my books a plug and a thumbs-up – right here:
Back From Florida
And make sure you lock away that old copy of Modern Magick, second edition. Especially if you have one signed by the author! It’ll be worth a pretty penny someday. And, in the meantime, check out the latest and greatest third edition:
Modern Magick, Third Edition